Treasuring Poetry 2022 – Robbie Cheadle discusses the War Poets

The poet I was hoping to feature today, Walt Page, has been unwell and was unable to participate. I decided that I would share a beautiful poem of Walt’s today called Sometimes When it Rains. Walt told me I was the inspiration for this poem and I love it.

Sometimes when it rains

Sometimes when it rains
she loves to go walking
snuggled inside
her warm rain jacket

Walking in the rain
is a sanctuary for her
a time when she can
create her poetry

it is her time alone
to be inspired
she loves being with her family
and she loves creating her poetry

those of us who follow her poetry
are blessed with her friendship
we know she is probably out walking
and we look forward to her new poems

~The Tennessee Poet~
©Walt Page 2020 All Rights Reserved

Walt is currently on a sabbatical from writing poetry, but he has years of wonderful poetry available to readers of his blog here: https://waltswritingsonlife.wordpress.com/

For the past 14 months, I have been deeply down a WW1 hole, reading book after book about this devastating and world-changing war.

My interest in books about WW1 is due partly to my general fascination with war and partly as research for my work in progress, The Soldier and the Radium Girl, a novel set in the USA and France from 1917 to October 1939.

My interest in war poetry was sparked by Sally Cronin from Smorgasbord Blog Magazine who shares poems by the war poets during the week leading up to Remembrance Day.

This year, Sally shared poems by two specific war poets which interested me so much, I read up about them and subsequently read one of each of their works.

Siegfried Sassoon

Sassoon photographed in 1915 by George Charles Beresford

This is what Wikipedia says about Siegfried Sassoon:

Siegfried Loraine Sassoon CBE MC (8 September 1886 – 1 September 1967) was an English war poet, writer, and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. His poetry both described the horrors of the trenches and satirised the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Sassoon’s view, were responsible for a jingoism-fuelled war. Sassoon became a focal point for dissent within the armed forces when he made a lone protest against the continuation of the war in his “Soldier’s Declaration” of 1917, culminating in his admission to a military psychiatric hospital; this resulted in his forming a friendship with Wilfred Owen, who was greatly influenced by him. Sassoon later won acclaim for his prose work, notably his three-volume fictionalised autobiography, collectively known as the “Sherston trilogy”.”

Siegfried Sassoon features as a main character in Regeneration by Pat Barkers. I had just finished this book when I read Sally’s post about him: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2021/11/11/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-poetry-rewind-in-remembrance-the-war-poets-siegfried-loraine-sassoon-cbe-mc-by-sally-cronin/

You can read my review of Regeneration here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4354087186

I elected to read The War Poems by Siegfried Sassoon available from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0571202659/

The War Poems

Over the past few years, I have read the odd poem by Siegfried Sassoon and found them to be very moving. These poetic encounters were usually on Poppy Day when the world commemorates both WW1 and WW2. Although I had a high level appreciation of this war and knew about trenches and a little of the horror, I had never studied WW1 or read much about it outside of these Poppy Day poems.

Over the course of the last 14 months, I have been extensively researching WW1 and have read a number of books detailing life for both the soldiers in France and for the civilian populations at home. My research has covered the British, French, South African, and American perspectives of WW1. These books, which included All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway, Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, and Regeneration by Pat Barker, really opened my eyes about the dreadful conditions in the trenches, the filth, the rats, the dead bodies, and the fear, as well as the heartbreak of losing a generation of young men. As a result of all this reading and my immersement in life during this time of worldwide conflict, my appreciation and understanding of Sassoon’s war poetry grow and I decided to read it all.

Reading this book was an excellent investment of my time and energy. Siegried Sassoon’s words are powerful and hard-hitting, striking right to the core of the war time experiences of these young men – their hopes and dreams dying around them along with their friends and leaders. This is a book that all youngers should read, after being given some context to WW1, so that this time can be remembered and timeous steps taken to prevent a re-occurrence at any future date. Remembering history and the mistakes of mankind, are best weapons against complacency.

The poem that moved me the most in this collection was The death-bed. You can listen to me reading it here: 

Vera Brittain

Brittain shortly after World War I

What Wikipedia says about Vera Brittain:

Vera Mary Brittain (29 December 1893 – 29 March 1970) was an English Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse, writer, feminist, socialist[1] and pacifist. Her best-selling 1933 memoir Testament of Youth recounted her experiences during the First World War and the beginning of her journey towards pacifism.”

You can read more about Vera Brittain here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Brittain

I recently read Vera’s memoir Testament of Youth and posted by review to Roberta Writes here: https://robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com/2022/01/19/roberta-writes-book-review-testament-of-youth-by-vera-brittain/

In conclusion

Finally, I am sharing one of my poems about a different kind of silent war. One that can still be contained and prevented from destroying our planet through carbon emissions and overuse of plastic if we reign it in. A compromise can be reached between profits and sustainability.

The Corporate Giant

It rears upwards

into the blue sky,

a monstrosity

of reflective glass, and

shiny stainless steel

towering over

the ant-sized people

who scurry about

in its imposing shadow.

***

An emotionless giant

it is bereft of a soul,

It feeds on small businesses

corner cafes, fruit and nut shops

independent butcheries, bakeries,

confectionaries and cake shops.

Even book sellers and

small stationers

are swallowed whole

disappearing into the gaping maw

of the corporate giant.

***

It shreds and ingests

taking the sustenance it seeks

spitting out the bones

independence and individuality

creativity and the unique

mere entrails, unwanted and discarded.

***

It stamps on difference

in its pursuit of profits

imperfections and blemishes

an unacceptable blight

on a perfect track record.

***

What remains will finally

emerge as a mirror

reflecting the sameness

uniformity and consistency

it holds so dear.

***

Providing its market

with the conformity

and rigidness

that has taken over

and turned the world grey.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.